What better way to end the week than with a good yarn. No sense
beating around the bush, let’s get right to it. My father,Alan Lawson is about the gutsiest fellow I know. When I was a teenager he had a herd of cattle, a string of horses, a meat shop, restaurant and a fox ranch. But that wasn’t enough for him. If he thought there was a way to make a dollar with something, he’d try it.
Over the years our farm was home to angora goats, llamas, pheasants and even wild turkeys. So it wasn’t a big surprise the day he rolled into the yard with his stock trailer full of buffalo. What fun. I was impressed. Gramp was not. A herd of horned, hairy beasts was the last thing he wanted around the place. In his books, a farm animal was something that was tame, or could be put in it’s place with his car.
We had them for quite a while without any incidents. We raised some calves, which are a beautiful golden color when they’re born. Dad also served buffalo meat in his restaurant. Things seemed to be going quite well. It could never last.
One day Dad decided to cross breed a cow with the buffalo bull in an attempt to raise a beefalo. I’ve never tried it, but apparently the meat from an animal which is half and half is delicious. We caught a hereford heifer from the cattle herd and put her in with the buffalo. Gramp was fit to be tied. The thought of one of his heifers raising a calf that was half bison almost drove him around the bend. He fretted about it, but there wasn’t much he could do as long as Dad was around.
The fun started when Dad went away for the day. He was no sooner out of the driveway when Gramp headed into the buffalo pasture with his tractor ( his second weapon of choice) and drove the heifer out and back in with the herd of cattle. Big mistake! Apparently a buffalo bull believes his females are his property and will defend them with his life. As soon as he noticed his new girlfriend was missing, he decided he was going to get her back.
We learned a lot that weekend. For one thing, when a one ton bison bull that is six feet tall at the shouldercan’t jump over something, he goes through it like a bulldozer. My first clue
that something was wrong was when I noticed their heavy wooden gate had been reduced to a pile of kindling. I looked in the field and to my horror the whole herd was gone.
We soon found them. They made their way to the next property and tore up my neighbor’s garden like a madman with a roto tiller. The bull was totally enraged. Turnips and potatoes were not a good substitute for his missing female. He bulldozed through another fence, tossing cedar poles in the air like they were matchsticks and headed towards our herd of cattle.
Something had to be done and quickly. The charolais bull with our
cattle was no slouch either, and wasn’t about to let some other male take charge. I could see a fight coming of epic proportions. I went into the field with my truck and tried to herd the bison out onto the road. It was like trying to thread a needle with boxing gloves. They had no notion of going anywhere I wanted them too.
Some of the neighbors pitched in to help. My cousins Howard and James Lawson came with James’ truck. Howard, who was quite brave, grabbed a little buffalo calf and put it into the box of the truck. I should mention a buffalo mother will defend it’s young to the death. Nostrils steaming, it charged the truck and they headed for the buffalo pasture with most of the herd chasing them. Once we had them penned up, all that was left loose was the gigantic bull and one ornery female with no calf.
I headed back to the cow pasture as fast as I could go. By this time
the two bulls were ready to face off. I chased the buffalo with my
truck, keeping him at too fast of a pace to jump or wreck the fence.
We made it to the gate, then he whirled and charged the front of my truck, missing it by inches, and sailed back across the field again. I didn’t know what to do anymore.
Gramp did. Before I knew it, he was in hot pursuit with his car. He chased the animal, blowing his horn and tapping it in the legs with his bumper every chance that he got. By the time they got to the end of the field, the buffalo lost it’s temper. It turned and tackled Gramp’s car.
I never saw Gramp back down from an animal in his life, but this time he knew he was licked. He turned his car around and headed towards the road, with the bull trying it’s best to turn his car into a pile of scrap metal. Everytime he slowed down for a bump or a ditch, the bison would ram it’s head into the back of his car. What a sight it was when he flew past all of us, with the enraged animal hooking the rear bumper with his horns. As Gramp left the field the bull gave his car one last resounding whack and ran back towards the herd of cattle. I was laughing so hard I thought I broke a rib.
By the time Dad got back, there was no catching the bull and the
buffalo cow that was with it. He had no choice but to shoot them. He served the meat in his restaurant and had the bull’s head stuffed. Not long after he sold the remaining animals to a buffalo rancher and that was the end of that. I think he was a little sad the day they left. I know I was. But I doubt Gramp shared our sentiment.
Have a great weekend!